Washington – In advance of the United Nations climate agreement signing tomorrow, nearly 50 business leaders from across the country traveled to the White House yesterday to brief senior Administration officials on how climate change affects local businesses.
The discussion focused on methods to mitigate the effects of severe weather and efforts to make America the world leader in bringing clean energy products and solutions to market.
The meeting itself was closed to press, but participants can discuss their experiences and the recommendations they shared. If you would like to speak with a local business leader about the event, please contact Rachel Harvey Katz at RHarvey@BusinessFWD.org or 202-470-1318.
Below is a sample of quotes from business leader participants:
“I am focused on climate change as a global issue, not just a regional one,” said Shelly Gottschamer, Supply Chain and Sustainability Officer at Outerknown in Culver City, Calif. “How our polices at home here in the United States affect or influence developing nations is of utmost concern, because we have the opportunity to lead by example. As more manufacturing is moved to developing countries with less governance in regards to climate change controls, how our government activates our policies and how it affects the global landscape is urgent. This concern is at the forefront of our business at Outerknown.”
“Stronger clean energy standards would spur more clean energy technology research and development,” said John Palizzi, Founder of Quantum Renewable Energy, Inc. in Denvero. “In meeting the goals outlined by the UN climate change agreement, I hope policymakers urge stronger clean energy standards to support a robust clean energy economy.”
“Our natural world, the environment itself, is the fundamental infrastructure of the outdoor industry,” said Amy Roberts, Executive Director of the Outdoor Industry Association in Golden, Colo. “Many outdoor brands, rooted in values of environmental responsibility, have led the fight against the negative effects of climate change. We are grateful to share our story with senior Administration officials, and thank Business Forward for inviting OIA and some of our members.”
“To be successful launching and sustaining clean energy solutions in the global market, American companies—such as Ascent Solar—look to the American government to lead the international community by championing progressive policies that support energy initiatives, which will quickly reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Rafael E. Gutierrez, SVP & COO Ascent Solar & EnerPlex in Thornton, Colo.
“Buildings use 70 percent of all electricity, so it’s an area ripe for disruption with energy efficiency solutions. The problem is, energy efficient homes don’t appraise for more, even though the costs are lower over time for the home owner, the economy and the environment,” said Jack Armstrong, President of Acumen, LLC in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “I hope policymakers can work with the private sector to build the structure necessary to encourage more energy efficient building.”
“At EcoTech Visions, we are a green business incubator, co-working and maker space that is bringing sustainable products and companies to market while simultaneously building the green economy through career creation in inner city Miami,” said Justin Knight, Director of Marketing and Programming at EcoTech Visions Foundation in Miami. “Policies that foster bringing clean products to market will help build the future of America through manufacturing. Tying the personal economic viability of individual citizens to producing green products creates sustainability advocates and solves for greater economic issues as well.”
“As a U.S.-based manufacturer of eco-friendly products, we are always looking to leverage policies or other mechanisms to achieve price competition. I believe that we have a great opportunity to employ policies to correct the market’s failure to account for the cost of carbon emissions. This will allow companies like Earthware to compete on equal footing with established manufacturers who are taking advantage of the lack of carbon pricing,” said Michael Caballero, CEO of Earthware Inc. in Miami.
“As a minority-owned green business generating jobs in agriculture and construction sectors, we support policies that will directly impact our domestic manufacturing, promote clean energy products and advocate for economic independence from pollution,” said Jonathan Taylor, Owner- Director of Operations at Andromeda District in Miami. “We are honored to be part of this White House briefing, where we can share our pragmatic experience as an eco-technology business, and most importantly, discuss how we can align efforts for green businesses to thrive and grow.”
“It’s time to harness America’s innovative potential to combat the global challenge of climate change and restore American leadership,” said F. Lee Simmons, President of BioEnergy Corporation in Chicago. “My company develops disruptive novel nanotechnology process methods for significant reductions in greenhouse gases that can potentially provide sustainable fuel and energy. I hope policymakers support more work like this as we work to meet the goals set at the UN climate change conference.”
“Climate change is our generation’s defining challenge,” said Geoff Oxnam, CEO of American Microgrid Solutions in Easton, Md. “America’s small businesses, with our passion for innovation and ingenuity, are the leaders in converting this challenge into opportunity by developing clean, advanced energy solutions.”
“My business provides cloud-based software for non-profits. As more technology moves to the cloud, power consumption at data centers is growing rapidly. It would be great if policymakers could promote renewable energy sources and power efficiency for data centers,” said Aaron Worley, General Manager at Pika Software in Beachwood, Ohio. “My company currently runs off the coal-heavy grid here in Ohio, and the company pays a flat rate for datacenter power, so there’s no incentive to use efficient hardware.”
“Building homes more energy efficiently isn’t just the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do. From an economic standpoint, homes that are built or renovated to high-performance home building standards are inherently more valuable to consumers when compared to conventional homes. They are designed to last longer, are cheaper to operate, and often realize a greater resale value, so while there may be an investment at the outset, homeowners are seeing that this investment provides a payback for years —and truly—for generations to come,” said Kim Hibbs, Owner of Hibbs Homes, LLC in Chesterfield, Mo. “The challenge for our industry, and for the government, is to find ways to make that initial investment as attractive and feasible as possible to encourage continued movement to more energy efficient homes.”
“As an exporter of equipment that re-refines oil wastes without harmful emissions, we advocate for carbon cutting policies that encourage re-use and recycling. It makes sense to use again what we can,” said Josh Studl, President of Allen Filtration, in Springfield, Mo. “If we can align smart carbon cutting policies with the innovations of American small- and medium-sized businesses, we can create good, skilled jobs. Allen Filtration is proof this is possible.”
“Imagine you owned a grocery store and people stopped eating? Warm winters like this one have devastated the local ski and snowboard industry and the family businesses that support it,” said Kjerstin Klein, Communications at Willi’s Ski and Snowboard Shops in Pittsburgh, Pa. “We hope policy makers will realize the devastating effects that climate change is having on the economy at the local level and act to curb it quickly in order to protect small businesses.”
“My company believes that there can be solutions to combatting climate change that are good both for the environment and the bottom line,” said Lalit Chordia, President & CEO of Thar Energy, LLC and Thar Process, Inc., in Pittsburgh, Pa. “For the United States to remain the global leader in clean energy technologies, more companies like mine will need support and investment.”
“We are very pleased to help drive the growth of the clean technology industry in our nation’s capital region,” said Dave McCarthy, Director of Potential Energy DC in Falls Church, Va. “With mission innovation as the means to mitigating climate change, our member organizations are taking up the challenge and developing leading edge technology solutions set to deliver global impact.”
“Employment in the solar energy industry has increased 20 percent a year for the past three years. That kind of phenomenal economic growth can only continue if we chose a path that prioritizes clean energy as a win for the economy and a win for the environment,” said Jeff Nicholson, Director of Development at Sigora Solar in Waynesboro, Va.
About Business Forward
With the help of more than 50 of the world’s most respected companies, Business Forward is making it easier for tens of thousands of business leaders from across America to advise Washington on how to create jobs and accelerate our economy. Business Forward is active in more than 100 cities and works with more than 450 senior Administration officials, Members of Congress, governors, and mayors.
Business leaders who have participated in our briefings have seen their suggestions implemented in the Affordable Care Act, the Jobs Act, three trade agreements, and every one of the President’s budgets. Many have also shared their recommendations with their representatives in Congress and through op-eds and interviews with local media. Ninety-eight out of 100 business leaders who have participated in a Business Forward briefing would be interested in participating in another one. For more information please visit www.BusinessFWD.org.